Country Life

PUCO extended hours of service exemption for agriculture

Earlier this week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio granted an extension of the hours of service exemption for agricultural operations until Jan. 1, 2012 to account for this year’s longer harvest.

The extension resulted from a request the Ohio Agribusiness Association (OABA) submitted on Nov. 18, 2011 and a similar request submitted by the Ohio Farm Bureau on November 23. In its request, OABA stated that extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, including a much wetter than normal spring that delayed planting and a wet fall, have compounded an already delayed 2011 crop harvest and could extend Ohio’s crop harvest into at least the first few weeks of December.

This posed a problem for Ohio farmers and agribusinesses, because under current hours of service rules, agricultural operations are only exempted from hours of service requirements during planting and harvesting seasons, which the state of Ohio defines as March 1 through Nov.… Continue reading

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2012 Southern Ohio New and Small Farm Colleges

Are you a small farm landowner wondering what to do with your acreage? Are you interested in exploring options for land uses but not sure where to turn or how to begin? Have you considered adding an agricultural or horticultural enterprise but you just aren’t sure what is required, from an equipment, labor, and/or management perspective? Are you looking for someplace to get basic farm information? If you or someone you know answered yes to any of these questions, then the OSU Extension Small Farm College program may be just what you are looking for.

OSU Extension is offering a program targeted at the new and small farmer. The Southern Ohio New and Small Farm College is an 8-week program that introduces new and even seasoned farmers to a wide variety of topics. The program will teach participants how to set goals, plan, budget, and where to find resources available for them if they chose to start a small farming operation.… Continue reading

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Poinsettia care

Poinsettias represent 80% of all potted plant sales in the United States during the holiday season, said University of Illinois Extension educator Ron Wolford.

“There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today,” Wolford said. “And they come in a myriad of colors like red, white, pink and burgundy. Keeping your poinsettias healthy during the holiday season can be a challenge considering the dry indoor environments in many homes.”

Here are a few tips from Wolford to help you keep your poinsettia healthy.

— Purchase a poinsettia with fully colored bracts (modified leaves) and tightly closed flower buds. The plant will start to decline after the flower buds have completely opened.

— After you have purchased your poinsettia, make sure it is wrapped completely because exposure to cold temps below 50 degrees in just the short walk to your car can damage the bracts and leaves.

— Place the poinsettia near a south, west or east facing window.… Continue reading

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USDA announces dates for conservation initiatives

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the ranking dates for the On-Farm Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel and Air Quality conservation initiatives. All four initiatives offer technical and financial assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“Producers tell us they want to apply for these initiatives, but many want more time to make sure they choose the one that’s right for their operation,” Vilsack said. “Moving to multiple ranking dates for each initiative is going to make it easier for more producers to apply and help them get started with implementing the practices they need to benefit the natural resources on their operations.”

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives, all ending on February 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012. Ranking periods for the Air Quality Initiative end February 3 and March 30, 2012.… Continue reading

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Locks and dams crucial for the future of ag

The National Corn Growers Association joined a well-timed effort to let the nation’s politicians know that farmers and their allies are paying attention to their positions on funding for essential lock and dam improvements along the Mississippi River. To determine how to best structure a strategic educational campaign on the issue, NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, NCGA staff and key industry stakeholders met in Quincy, Ill., for a discussion covering the importance of the actual improvements and the best way in which to move forward as a unified front.

“Our inland waterway system plays a crucial role in the nation’s economy, and we must act now to help our future leaders understand that funding improvements is critical to maintaining their viability,” said Niemeyer. “Acting together, we can magnify our voices, and thus our effectiveness, exponentially. Achieving our goal is not only important for farmers and shippers, our nation as a whole will benefit from the job creation and shipping efficiencies this project would generate.”… Continue reading

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2011 farm sector income forecast

The USDA Farm Income Forecast paints a bright picture for agricultural profitability this year. Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion for 2011, up $21.8 billion (28%) from 2010 while net cash income at $109.8 billion, is forecast up $17.5 billion (18.9%) from 2010, and $34.2 billion above its 10-year average (2001-2010) of $75.6 billion.

Net cash income reflects only the cash transactions occurring within the calendar year. Net farm income is a measure of the increase in wealth from production, whereas net cash income is a measure of solvency, or the ability to pay bills and make payments on debt.

“Today’s farm income forecast shows that the American brand of agriculture continues to be a bright spot in our nation’s economy. Following on a strong 2010, all three measures of farm sector earnings again experienced strong growth in 2011. According to today’s numbers, farmers are earning 28% more for their products than they made last year.… Continue reading

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Yes We Can supports Highland County Extension

By Matt Reese

Sarah Young, though she was only 10, knew she loved showing sheep in 4-H at the Highland County Fair. She also knew that, after the failure of levies for Extension funding in Highland County, the $50,000 in annual local funding would have to be raised or she would no longer have the opportunity to participate in 4-H with her lamb projects.

So, in 2010, she decided to donate the proceeds of the sale of her market lamb to support Highland County Extension. Though she was hoping for the entire $50,000, the lamb sold for almost $13,000, which was a great start that encouraged more contributions from others.

“When it was all said and done, she ended up raising, directly and indirectly, about $30,000 from other people stepping forward contributing money after she was on the news,” said Shelli Young, Sarah’s mother. “Other kids offered up proceeds from their animals and money just started rolling in.”… Continue reading

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Defunct Super Committee farm bill had some new concepts

By Kyle Sharp


When the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly referred to as the Super Committee, was formed this summer and charged with developing a plan by Thanksgiving to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years, they asked all the Congressional committees to submit proposed savings packages. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees were the only combined committee to complete that request, submitting a complete farm bill package toward the end of the week of Nov. 14.

That effort was all for not, as the Super Committee members announced Nov. 21 that a compromise would not be reached. Ohio’s sole member of the Super Committee, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), said he was “deeply frustrated” by the outcome and believes “both sides will regret this lost opportunity.”

“We failed to reach agreement because, despite good intentions on both sides, we simply couldn’t bridge fundamental policy differences that reflect a broader disagreement in the Congress and country as a whole over the size and scope of government,“ Portman said.… Continue reading

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USDA is ready to answer your turkey questions

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has been answering consumer questions related to Holiday meals for over 25 years. Of course, we get the usual questions about buying, thawing and roasting a turkey. But we also get some of the same not-so-typical questions each year. You may have had these questions yourself.


How long will it take to cook two turkeys at the same time?

The cooking time is determined by the weight of one bird—not the combined weight. Use the weight of the smaller bird to determine cooking time.  Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the smaller bird first and then check the second bird. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.  Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.  … Continue reading

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Take time to give thanks…for chocolate

By Jo Ellen Helmlinger

The botanical name for the cacao tree that produces the beans for chocolate is theobroma, translated as “food of the gods,” a perfect description for a treat that is universally loved. Chocolate is truly a product of the New World, and we have the Aztecs of Mexico to thank for introducing it to the Spanish invader, Cortez, who took it home to his countrymen as hot drink that they later flavored with sugar and vanilla.

By the 1600s, the XZ lost their monopoly of the cacao bean and the hot chocolate drink. Chocolate shops sprang up throughout Europe where wealthy patrons gathered to sip the delicious drink and gossip about politics and society.

As early as 1765, the first plant for making chocolate in the United States was started in Dorchester, Mass. Chocolate as a drink was very popular with the early pioneers who considered it full bodied and stimulating when compared to tea and coffee.… Continue reading

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Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach agreement

Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement in response to the announcement that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has failed to reach an agreement.

“House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders developed a bipartisan, bicameral proposal for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that would save $23 billion. However, the Joint Select Committee’s failure to reach a deal on an overall deficit reduction package effectively ends this effort. We are pleased we were able to work in a bipartisan way with committee members and agriculture stakeholders to generate sound ideas to cut spending by tens of billions while maintaining key priorities to grow the country’s agriculture economy. We will continue the process of reauthorizing the farm bill in the coming months, and will do so with the same bipartisan spirit that has historically defined the work of our committees.”… Continue reading

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Know the law when trucking this winter

As harvest season winds down and farmers begin to take their grain to its final location, accidents on the road should be a high priority for producers to guard against, said Bill Field, a Purdue safety expert.

Weight is a key legal issue for drivers. Field said they should be familiar with state and local guidelines for weight restrictions.

“Most of the weigh stations say ‘Closed,’ but farmers still need to know the regulations,” Field said. “Farmers can ask at any state trooper post to find out that information. The bottom line is that if they get stopped for any reason, ignorance of the law is not an excuse; they will get a ticket.”

Farmers can also protect themselves by making sure the truck is in good working condition. Field recommended that they check lights, tires and brakes often.

“Usually, troopers don’t stop trucks because they look heavy; they will pull them over because they have lights covered with dirt or tires that look bald,” Field said.… Continue reading

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FCS announces results of a profitable quarter

Agriculture lender Farm Credit Services of Mid-America announced the association generated $191.6 million in net earnings during the first nine months of 2011, an increase of $30.5 million over the same period last year. Total earning assets increased more than $1 billion compared to the 3rd Quarter 2010.

President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson said strong farm earnings continue to bolster the economy and that has had a positive impact on the earnings of the association. “The farm sector continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise unpredictable economy,” Johnson said. “That, coupled with the low interest rate environment, has allowed us to offer competitive interest rates to customer-members on loans so they are able to grow their operations.”

At the same time, the credit quality of the association’s portfolio is stable. Adversely classified loan volume was 4.1% of the loan portfolio compared to 4.2% at September 30, 2010.… Continue reading

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Craigslist ad for farm employment leads to murder

The Noble County sheriff reported to ONN that a case has been developing after a body was found in a remote part of the county earlier this week. The body was identified as a jobseeker from Florida responding to a Craigslist advertisemnt for a job on a cattle farm in Ohio. For more on this developing story, visit:

and… Continue reading

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#FoodThanks returns for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving season, people throughout the food system will be using social media to show their thanks for food and raise awareness of agriculture through the AgChat Foundation’s #foodthanks campaign. Last year more than 800 people participated in the campaign by blogging, adding the #foodthanks twibbon to their avatar photo, and sharing more than 2,000 Twitter posts.

“For many of us, this month is when we take time to give thanks for the food on our tables,” says Darin Grimm, president of the AgChat Foundation, a 100 percent volunteer organization that aims to empower farmers and ranchers to “agvocate” via social media platforms. “The #foodthanks campaign provides tools and inspiration for people to take their personal expressions of gratitude beyond the dinner table to friends, family and followers within their social networks.”

Grimm encourages members of the ag and food communities to tweet, post and blog about #foodthanks this month, and especially on November 23, as Thanksgiving becomes top-of-mind for much of the country.… Continue reading

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USDA works to develop international markets

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing in approximately 70 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for their goods. Vilsack made the announcement during a conference call with reporters from Vietnam, where he is meeting with officials to help strengthen trade relations in the Asia Pacific region.

“Under the Obama Administration, USDA has continued to expand markets for American goods abroad, worked aggressively to break down barriers to trade, and assisted U.S. businesses with the resources needed to reach consumers around the world,” said Vilsack. “The funding announced today will ensure that U.S. agriculture remains a bright spot in America’s economy and a driving force behind export growth, job creation, and our nation’s competitiveness.”

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) allocated $213 million for export promotion activities through two USDA international market development programs: the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP).… Continue reading

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Kasich appoints Zehringer Director of ODNR

On Nov. 15, Governor John R. Kasich made an official announcement that Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Jim Zehringer will become Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).  Dr. Tony Forshey, the state veterinarian for the past six years, has been named interim director of ODA.

As Director, Zehringer replaces David Mustine who now oversees energy development efforts at JobsOhio.  Assistant Director Scott Zody has served as interim director of ODNR since Mustine’s departure on September 7.

Prior to his service at ODA, Director Zehringer was the State Representative for the 77th House District and is the former owner and operator of the Meiring Poultry and Fish Farm in Fort Recovery, Ohio.

Dr. Forshey has 27 years of service in veterinary medicine, is on the Board of Directors of the United States Animal Health Association and the National Institute of Animal Agriculture, and is a past recipient of the Ohio Veterinarian of the Year Award from the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.… Continue reading

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Use caution when working with shale gas issues

Shale gas development in Ohio could mean thousands of Ohio jobs, windfalls for landowners leasing away their mineral rights, and economic development for struggling communities.

But landowners also need to fully understand the potential financial, legal and environmental ramifications of the highly complex leases, which could last for generations. And public officials often need guidance on the implications for their communities, as well.

Ohio State University Extension is providing such leadership, offering educational programs to landowners, public officials and other stakeholders to help them make informed decisions. And people are asking for more.

“I’ve been with Extension for 27 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Stephen Schumacher, an Ohio State University Extension educator in Belmont County. “You can’t go to the fair or to the coffee shop without talking about oil and gas.”

Schumacher and colleague Mike Lloyd coordinate the OSU Extension Shale Gas Workgroup, which gathers monthly to allow educators, researchers and state Extension specialists to meet with representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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Turkey prices driving increase in Thanksgiving meal

The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13% this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF’s 26th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47.

“The cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain, at just under $5 per person,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “The quality and variety of food produced for our dinner tables on America’s diverse farms and ranches sets us apart from our contemporaries around the world.  It is an honor for our farm and ranch families to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.… Continue reading

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OFBF announces winners of “My Ohio Agriculture” video contest

Four Ohioans have been named winners of $500 each in the ‘My Ohio Agriculture’ video contest, sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Center for Food and Animal Issues. The contest required entrants to submit a one- to three-minute video showcasing their connection to Ohio agriculture.

The Stearns Homestead Farm in Parma earned the “People’s Choice Award,” given to the contestant whose video earned the most views on YouTube during the contest period. Submitted by Dana Valensky, the “Stearns Homestead Agriculture Clip” showed the diversity of this community farm in the city and its benefits to the local youth programs and residents. The video was viewed 1,447 times on YouTube throughout the contest.

Lisa Gress of Shreve earned the “Most Creative” Judges’ Choice Award for her video “My Ohio Agriculture – What’s Our Connection?” which featured time lapsed hand drawn farm and agriculture scenes, and described the wide variety and diversity of agriculture in the state.… Continue reading

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